Lithium extraction technique progresses
A kinetic study is planned for a patent-pending lithium extraction technology to obtain data for pilot-scale testing.
Canadian-based Hertz Lithium and Penn State University, US, developed the technology to extract lithium from alpha spodumene.
Current technologies do not allow leaching of lithium from alpha spodumene, and therefore most of the methods of lithium extraction from spodumene involve modifying the crystal structure of concentrated spodumene mineral at 950-1,100°C.
In the search for more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly methods of high-yield lithium extraction, the partnership has developed the new method.
The technology takes spodumene concentrate, introduces sodium hydroxide, and then proceeds with conventional or microwave heating which transforms the spodumene into a soluble phase.
Next, water leaching recovers water-soluble lithium and removes unwanted chemicals. A final acid leach and purification reportedly results in 90% recovery of lithium.The next phase of the research seeks to maximise lithium recovery while eliminating acid leaching or reducing chemical consumption, alongside conducting a kinetic study.